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Terry Pluto: Indians getting big bats from some unlikely players
Passed-over players including Raburn, Reynolds and Kazmir step up for the Tribe
by WKSU's AMANDA RABINOWITZ


Morning Edition Host
Amanda Rabinowitz
 
Mark Reynolds hits a double during a spring training game on February 24, 2013 in Goodyear, Arizona
Courtesy of Christian Petersen/Getty Images
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The Cleveland Indians have been a dynamic team to watch during the first month of the season. They’re hovering in third place in their division, but they’ve been doing something fans haven’t consistently seen in years:  Hit. And they’re hitting big -- racking up an American League-leading 44 home runs so far.

WKSU commentator Terry Pluto explains many of these home runs are coming from some unlikely players.

Listen: Terry Pluto commentary

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"Mega Mark"
Terry Pluto says the Indians call third baseman Mark Reynolds, “Mega Mark.” Reynolds alone has hit 10 home runs so far this season and that's the most for any player in the American League. 

But Reynolds, Pluto says, was an easy grab for the Indians because the Baltimore Orioles didn’t want him back even though he was willing to take less than his $11 million option for this year.

“The Indians really did not have a lot of competition to sign this guy and they signed him to a one-year contract,” Pluto said. “And he’s gone crazy.”

Reynolds has been performing well early on for the Indians, and his home runs are nothing to question.

“This guy doesn’t hit home runs, you know, it’s not tape measured,” Pluto said. “You have to bring in a surveying team to find out where the balls land.” Monday night, Reynolds hit at 460 ft. homer that nearly cleared the bleachers. 

Ryan Raburn -- Who?
The other player to surprise fans is Ryan Raburn. Last year Raburn played for Detroit and was sent to the minors, Pluto said.

“He’s had big springs the last four years with Detroit. He hits well in the spring time,” Pluto said. “He should be Mr. Arizona.”

Ever since the Indians put Raburn on their roster there has been some trepidation to whether he would last or not.

But because Raburn was on a minor league contract, he had “nowhere to go” except one or two other teams, Pluto said.

“Well I have never seen a major league player get 12 hits and 14 at bat. Never,” Pluto said.

A pitching veteran making a solid comeback
Another overlooked player is veteran pitcher, Scott Kazmir.

Kazmir came up in baseball at 22 years old. He played for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, pitched in two All-Star Games and led the league in strikeouts by 23 years old.

“By the time he was 27 he forgot how to pitch,” Pluto said.

However, Pluto said he has never seen someone like Kazmir before. A player who has come from “the dark side of the moon” -- where he’s receiving so much instruction he doesn’t even know if he’s pitching with the right hand anymore -- to actually becoming a polished pitcher.

A little bit of luck
Pluto said he’s still skeptical about Kazmir because they don’t know if he will get hurt again – Kazmir has been on the disabled list seven times with no surgery. But Pluto knows that there are a whole bunch of other teams checking out the Indians right now and looking at those formally overlooked players.

“You know what happened is that the Indians got a little lucky,” Pluto said.

Pluto knew that it was important for the Indians to get off to a great start, not just for the stats, but because the fans want to turn on the TV and watch it.


Pluto: How manager Terry Francona has helped offensive surge
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